The New Pornographers at First Avenue


I went into the show last night with no expectations. There haven’t been many shows I’ve been dying to see lately but, with a full week of concerts coming up, I knew I had to get back into the swing of things. Obviously I had heard of The New Pornographers before walking into First Avenue last night but I had never really heard them. I was excited to see what the night would bring so I claimed my spot under the stairs and prepared myself for what was to come.

The show started slowly but beautifully. Waxahatchee was the only opener and came in the form of a duo last night with singer/ guitarist and founder Katie Crutchfield standing in the spotlight through the entirety of their forty-five minute set. The music came off as calming and soothing and, for a girl who typically attends rock and metal shows, it was a truly surreal experience to feel such peace during a set. Katie’s voice and dark lyrics paired perfectly creating a true soundscape throughout the venue.

As I mentioned, last night Waxahatchee performed as a duo with just Katie and then a bassist. After doing some research this morning, I came to find out that sometimes Waxahatchee shows up as a full band. This has me intrigued. Although I found the set last night to be a bit too calming for my taste, I heard the talent and saw the potential for a truly moving set. I would love to catch Katie with a full band in the future and see if my intuition is right. 

Waxahatchee Set List: Breathless / Catfish / Swan Dive / Fade / Sliver / Sparks Fly / Michael / Magic City / A Little More / La Loose / I Think

To try and get myself out of the sleepy trance I had been put in, I decided to walk around the venue a little bit and get the blood moving again. As I started wandering and people watching I realized that the crowd was quite a bit older than I was used to at concerts. People weren’t spilling beer everywhere and the mood in the packed venue was more calm than most shows I go to in general. It was truly a nice change of pace and kind of an eye opening experience in a way. It was just so different than what I was used to and I was kind of fascinated in a way. Where was the pushing and shoving? Where were the rude people just elbowing their way to the front? I didn’t want to be rude to the overly nice crowd and I quickly realized that there was no way I was getting back to my spot under the stairs. I felt lost but, hey, this was already a new experience for me so why not stand on the complete other side of the venue than where I typically do.

As soon as I got comfortable with my new surroundings, the screen hiding the stage came up and the crowd erupted with gratitude. I get it, The New Pornographers are a thing. There’s no denying that they have talent and have stood the test of time but they were just one group I never really gave a chance. It’s not that I had anything against them, just wasn’t what I was into and never found myself wanting to get into them. The band didn’t delay and as soon as the eight members took their spots behind their instruments, the set started. 

The New Pornographer’s music may have been much more upbeat than that of the opener but it was still a nice pairing. Like a fine wine to a plate of cheese, the two acts complimented each other perfectly and made for a truly unique and beautiful night. The New Pornographers brought the poppy hooks and catchy rhythms to the night and with four voices singing in perfect harmonies, it was hard not to fall in love with their sound within the first song.

Neko Case is one of the many vocalists in The New Pornographers but seems to be the one that truly “took off” in the music world. With a solo career that has been turning heads for years, it seems like she has kind of stepped away from The New Pornographers. Although the band never really stopped touring, there were many tours where they went on without Neko Case but last night the crowd at First Avenue got the full project, Neko Case and all. As soon as Neko finished her first solo line of lyrics in the first song, the crowd erupted in applause. It was obvious that being able to see her with this band was truly and experience and privilege that the older crowd was not going to let slip by. 

The New Pornographers powered through exhausting seventeen song set that was followed up by a three song encore. Throughout the whole show, the bring lights were flashing and the crowd was cheering. Playing songs that spanned their nearly 20 year career, the crowd didn’t seem to care what the band was performing, they were just happy to being seeing such a tried and true group. The New Pornographer’s latest release, Whiteout Conditions, came out just over a week ago. The songs they played from this new release blended perfectly with the older songs that were performed during the set which just helped drive home the point that these guys aren’t going anywhere and they are definitely sticking to their roots.

Last night was a good show. It just wasn’t for me. It was for a generation that I don’t fall in and a crowd that I just can’t relate to. That being said, being able to experience a show that is completely different than what I usually go to is still better than sitting at home and binge watching CSI.

The New Pornographers Set List: High Ticket / Laws / Moves / Colosseums / Dancehall Domine / Whiteout Conditions / Champions Of Red Wine / Adventures In Solitude / All The Old Showstoppers / World Of The Theater / Backstairs / Testament To Youth In Verse / Spanish Techno / Play Money / Sweet Talk, Sweet Talk / Avalanche Alley / Mass Romantic

Encore: We’ve Been Here Before / Brill Bruisers / Bleeding Heart Show


1 Comment

  1. This article comes off as very pretentious. This was a ” a crowd that I just can’t relate to”? So you can’t relate to anyone who is not in your approved age group, and are therefore irrelevant? You want the elbowing, stage-rushing, beer spilling/swilling crowd?

    How about appreciating craftsman that practice their trade and the crowd they draw. They DO care about the songs selected, and aren’t just there to see a band.

    So sorry you can’t relate to anyone out of your comfort circle. Feel bad for your parents, their grandkids, and anyone else you summarily reject as not hip and cool enough for your sensibilities. Enjoy that craft beer and self-centered superiority.

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